SSB unwilling to cede 12 kanals of exhibition campus

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Srinagar: The premises of the handicraft department, its two buildings and a portion of exhibition ground of Kashmir Haat near Jahangir Chowk have been occupied by government forces for decades and the officials said that their presence poses multiple problems to the employees, craftsmen, and the visitors.

Officials said that the handicrafts building and its premises were occupied by CRPF in 90’s and then Seema Suraksha Bal two years ago.

Officials in the Kashmir Haat said that 12 kanals of the exhibition campus, where the handicraft market is held, have been occupied by the SSB and despite pushing the case before their officials they are not vacating the land.

Deputy Director Administration and Incharge Manager of the Kashmir haat, Zeenat Ara said that the SSB personnel have not vacated the ground despite officials ‘consistently’ pushing for it.

Ara said that the SSB men have set up open latrines in the campus, dump their garbage and other waste in the campus.

“The SSB men are rearing dogs that pose dangers to the employees and customers who visit the market. A number of our employees have been bitten by the dogs. The campus has become a breeding ground for stray dogs, and a wastage dump,” Ara said.

Ara said the SSB men have closed the part of the campus with concertina wires and do not allow them to enter that part.

She said that if the occupation continues handicraft and the haat will be replaced by the dogs and garbage.

“We have been pursuing freeing of the campus from the SSB with their top officials and the government, but the SSB personnel are unmoved. They are not vacating the land,” Ara said.

The officials in the handicraft department said that the one-storey old building of School of Designing has been occupied by SSB after replacing CRPF two years ago and have been converted into a camp.

“The presence of SSB personnel has given rise to multiple problems. Our employees fear to move from one building to another for their work. Dogs are present at every step,” a senior official of the said. “How can employees or a customer move safely when the fear of gun lurks on him,” he said.

The official said that the SSB besides using it its buildings as camp, have converted the premises into a car workshop to repair their vehicles.

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